Are We There Yet? How Much Further? – A Progress Report from the Field of Grazing

I sometimes worry that I might be living in an echo chamber. I constantly talk to people who are interested in grazing and soils and ranching. My mailbox is filled with magazines about modern grazing theory and progressive ranching. I have to set an egg timer each morning to make myself quit reading on-line articles about ruminants and radicals. All of this sometimes causes me to see a world where managed grazing schemes are covering the planet, ending erosion, improving conditions on the ground, and making more money for producers. But now, at the risk of sounding negative, I must tell you: I have growing doubts that modern, managed grazing theory is having much effect on the livestock industry. This past spring my wife and I attended a grazing conference in Pendleton, Oregon. “Managing for Resilience” promised to be just the sort of out-on-the-fringe agricultural love-fest that I look for. The speakers were a pretty radical bunch, and the topics included things like riparian management, climate change, animal behavior, and a bunch more whacky ideas. Plus, the conference was put together by some folks from Holistic Management International, a fringe ag group if there ever was one. One of the headline speakers was giving a talk on the intimate ecological relationships between ruminants, soils, grass and humans. He was telling about the changes in his life and his ranch when he switched from a conventional set-stocking program to a managed grazing system. He spoke

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2 thoughts on “Are We There Yet? How Much Further? – A Progress Report from the Field of Grazing

  1. Same Here Chip and John. NRCS pays something around half of the cost of putting in fences, watering systems, interseeding to improve pastures, brush management and many other things that benefit ranches to increase the speed of adoption.

    I do not understand why ranchers don’t want to double profit by increasing biomass to benefit cattle, wildlife, ecosystem services such as clean runoff and much more.

    I DO NOT want this to become a regulatory issue like confinements. Here’s the rub. Every civilization that has lost its topsoil ceased to exist almost immediately. Farmers have the biggest burden but ranchers need to do our part too.

  2. John is correct on the slow adoption to managed grazing. Unfortunately, I have no solution other than to just keep plugging away, one producer at a time. We’re up against human nature, which to date, no one has figured out.

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